MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
Peterson's sensational season following major knee surgery earned him
The Associated Press 2012 NFL Most Valuable Player Award.
The Minnesota Vikings running back finished with 2,019 yards, a mere 9
yards short of breaking Eric Dickerson's rushing record. Peterson beat
out Peyton Manning, who in his first season as Denver's quarterback
contended for a fifth MVP trophy. Manning's four are a record.
''My career could have easily been over, just like that,'' the
sensational running back said. ''Oh man. The things I've been through
throughout my lifetime has made me mentally tough."
Peterson received 30 1-2 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media
members who regularly cover the NFL. Manning got the other 19 1-2 votes.
Peterson led the Vikings from a 3-13 mark to 10-6 and a wild-card
playoff berth. He is the first running back to win MVP since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006.
COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR: PEYTON MANNING, Denver Broncos
Manning's stunning return from four neck surgeries netted him The
Associated Press 2012 NFL Comeback Player of the Year award.
''This injury was unlike any other,'' said the only four-time league
MVP. ''There really was no bar or standard, there were no notes to
copy. We were coming up with a rehab plan as we went.''
The four-time league MVP guided the Broncos to the AFC's best record,
13-3, in his first season in Denver.
Before sitting out 2011, Manning had never missed a start in his first
13 seasons with Indianapolis. Manning received 31 1-2 votes Saturday
from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the
He easily beat Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who got
17 1-2 votes after his comeback from major knee surgery. Peterson came
within 9 yards of the NFL rushing record and helped Minnesota go from
3-13 to 10-6 and a wild-card berth.
Kansas City RB Jamaal Charles got one vote.
COACH OF THE YEAR: Bruce Arians, Indianapolis Colts
Arians became the first interim coach to win the top NFL award from The
''It's hard to put into words the feelings of this past year,'' said
Arians, who was hired by the Cardinals in late January. ''This was kind
of the cherry on the top, whipped cream and everything else you put on
Arians now is head coach in Arizona.
Arians took charge of the Colts in late September after head coach
Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia. The Colts, 2-14 the previous
season, went 9-3 under Arians and made the playoffs.
Pagano coached the final game of the regular season and a wild-card
Arians earned 36 1-2 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members
who regularly cover the NFL. Pagano finished second with 5 1-2, while
Pete Carroll of Seattle received five and Leslie Frazier of Minnesota
Arians spent only one season in Indy before landing the Cardinals job.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: ADRIAN PETERSON, MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Peterson won The Associated Press 2012 NFL Offensive Player of the Year
award just one year after major knee surgery.
The Minnesota Vikings running back rushed for 2,109 yards, 9 short of
Eric Dickerson's record. He dominated voting by a nationwide panel of
50 media members who regularly cover the NFL, getting 36 ballots to
eight for runner-up QB Peyton Manning of Denver.
Quarterbacks Tom Brady of New England and Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay,
and receiver Calvin Johnson of Detroit each got two votes.
Even more startling is that Peterson's remarkable year followed major
knee surgery at the end of 2011. He led the Vikings' turnaround from a
3-13 record to 10-6 and a wild-card playoff berth, scoring 12
touchdowns rushing and averaging 6.0 yards per carry.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: J.J. Watt, Houston Texans
Houston end Watt won The Associated Press 2012 NFL Defensive Player of
the Year award, missing a perfect ballot by one vote.
The NFL's sacks leader with 20 1-2 and a pass-blocking fiend, Watt
earned 49 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who
regularly cover the league. Denver linebacker Von Miller received the
Watt, a versatile second-year player with a tremendous burst off the
line, also forced four fumbles and recovered two in helping the Texans
to their second straight AFC South title. With his long wingspan, he
blocked a stunning 16 passes.
Houston end J.J. Watt swatted the competition for Defensive Player of
the Year, getting 49 votes; Denver's Von Miller got the other in the
most lopsided balloting of all the awards.
''In my plans it was there,'' Watt said of being honored. He led the
NFL with 20 1-2 sacks and also blocked an astounding 16 passes. ''It
sets the bar for me. I want to go out and do even better. I want to do
even bigger things.''
Watt is the first Texans player to win the award. Last year, Miller ran
away with the top defensive rookie award while Watt was not in
OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
Griffin beat out fellow quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson to
win the Year award. From a brilliant rookie class, RG3 was a strong
winner Saturday night in voting by a nationwide panel of 50 media
members who regularly cover the league.
''It's truly a blessing to be up there - to be able to stand, first and
foremost,'' said Griffin, who underwent knee surgery last month. He
added that next season ''you'll see a better Robert Griffin.''
Wearing a burgundy and gold tie, in honor of his Skins, Griffin said
his goal is to be ready for the season opener.
DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers
Kuechly, Carolina's tackling machine at linebacker, won the Associated
Press 2012 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
Kuechly, a first-round pick from Boston College, led the league with
164 tackles. He began the season on the outside but moved to middle
linebacker five games into the season and the Panthers went from 24th
in the league in overall defense to 10th.
He earned 28 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who
regularly cover the league. That easily outdistanced Seattle LB Bobby Wagner with 11. Green Bay cornerback Casey Hayward got six votes, while
St. Louis CB Janoris Jenkins got three. Tampa Bay LB Lavonte David got
the other two votes.
He is the second Panther to win the award; DE Julius Peppers got it in
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